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north pole, okay? here's europe and other's russia, all the way back around to the other side of the globe and japan and the u.s. it would follow a little possible parcel of radiation all the way across the country and pacific. it would take many days. a lot of the radiation would be gone. there's just no threat. >> we will see. you'll keep watching, it as will i, but thanks so much for watching it here. want to turn things over to jessica yellin in "the situation room." jess, to you. >> happening now, breaking news. three nuclear reactors damaged to the core. the crisis in japan is said to be deteriorating right now. u.s. officials are suggesting the situation is more dire than many thought. with america's top nuclear watchdogs saying radiation levels are extremely high. freezing cold and snow adding to the hardship for quake and tsunami survivors there and hampering the rescue and recovery. more people now seem eager to
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get out of japan all together. and wolf blitzer's one-on-one interview with secretary of state hillary clinton in egypt. she's talking about the disaster in japan, as well as the uprisings in libya and across the region. welcome to our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm jessica yellin. you're in "the situation room." wolf blitzer is on his way from egypt to tunisia right now. we expect him to join us once he lands, but for now let's brick in isha sesay at the global headquarters in atlanta for live coverage of the crisis in japan. isha. >> we saw a new cloud of smoke spewed from the plant at the daiichi nuclear power plant today unleashing freesh fear about radiation exposure and a possible meltdown. the u.s. government is apparently so concerned that it's giving americans different advice on evacuating the area than the japanese have given.
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let's bring in cnn's jeanne meserve following the nuclear crisis for us. jeanne, what do we know? >> reporter: in a very worrisome development the head of the nuclear regulatory commission told congress today that there may be no water in the spent fuel pool at the fukushima plant. >> what we believe at this time is that there has been a hydrogen explosion in the unit due to an uncovering of the fuel in the fuel pool. we believe that secondary containment has been destroyed, and there is no water in the spent fuel pool, and we believe that radiation levels are extremely high which could possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures. >> reporter: at one point smoke or steam could be seen rising from the plant. the international atomic energy agency says there is damage to the core of reactors one, two
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and three. >> we do not know the exact situation inside the reactor vessels, but the pressure inside rema remains at about atmospheric pressure. this suggests they remain largely intact >> reporter: u.s. is instructing americans within a 50-mile radius of the fukushima plant to get out or take shelter, and the u.s. military is not allowing its troops in that zone. it puts the u.s. on a different page than the japanese who are currently recommending a 12-mile evacuation radius. >> we do not know the exact situation inside the reactor vessels, but pressure inside -- >> that recommendation suggests that the advice the japanese government is giving based on the information it has is
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different from the advice that we would be giving if this incident were happening in the united states of america. it is not about the quality of information. it is about standards set by the nuclear regulatory commission. >> reporter: at one point tests on tap water 50 miles away from the plant found radiation. the levels were not high enough to harm human health, and they later dropped, but radiation levels around the plant were so high a plan to drop water from helicopters was abandoned and some workers at the site had to take cover for a time. back to you. >> jeanne, let me ask you this. how satisfied are your sources as you speak to them will the flow of information that they are getting from japanese authorities? >> reporter: well, they understand that the japanese are in the middle of a crisis, that they are handling a very, very, very difficult situation, but it's one reason why the u.s. sent its own experts and equipment to japan so they could get measurements. they could make their judgments. they could have the best idea of what was going on. isha? >> jeanne meserve, we appreciate
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it. thank you. jessica? >> japan's airports are filled with people desperate to get out, terrified of the potential for radiation exposure. joining us live from tokyo now, cnn special correspondent soledad o'brien. soledad, give us a sense how big is this exodus? >> reporter: huge actually, and the if you go to an airport like narita airport, jess characters you see the lines literally snake for hours for people who get in and have to wait to get to the front desk to get to their flights, massive. we've seen i-reports and also reporters reporting from us from the airport in haneda as well, which actually is a smaller airport, and, still, was crowded. when we flew in last night, things seemed to have taper off a little bit, but we were on a pretty crowded flight and a lot of this, you heard what jeanne meserve was reporting, a sense of conflicting, sometimes contradictory information coming out, and people really nervous about what is the next step, what lies ahead when it comes to
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this nuclear reactor situation, especially looking at the reactors three and four today, sort of been where the focus is, pulling the workers out who have been working on the reactor and putting them back in when the radiation drops and things are in flux, a very, very fluid situation and because of that people are very, very nervous and concerned. >> are people unsure of the information, distrust of the government, or are they fleeing because they are just worried? >> reporter: i think it's a combination of both. information from one person will contradict that of another. you'll see a plume of white smoke from reactor and there will be a statement or press conference that says, you know, it's really not that serious so sometimes things seem contradictory, and i think there's a sense that are we, meaning the japanese people, getting the full -- the full assessment from their officials?
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there's consistent calls for calm, and we've seen mostly calm, but people have told me they are frustrated and concerned about what to do next. they don't really get a sense what to do next, especially for the evacuees and some of the fishing villages really devastated by the tsunami, jessica, that we went to visit. they would say there's no food. there's no fuel. it's really bitterly cold, and we don't really know what the next step and no one has quite told us yet. what do you know? they would ask us, so i think there is a little bit of a growing frustration, but for the most part the population has been incredibly calm, and i think that people are just sort of opting in to taking an opportunity to get out of the country, if they can. >> they have been remarkably calm. thank you so, soledad. isha. >> secretary of state clinton is keeping a close watch on the disaster in japan, even as she travels through the middle east and northern africa. our very own wolf blitzer is traveling with her and asked her about the nuclear danger right now and the threat of a full-scale meltdown.
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>> are you confident that we're getting the full story from the government of japan? >> i believe based on the feedback i'm getting from our experts, because i'm not a nuclear expert. i don't pretend to be. there was a lot of confusion as there would be in any disaster, and if you're hit first with an earthquake and then you're hit with a tsunami and then you're trying to figure out what's happening to your nuclear reactors, it takes some time to get a handle on that. i think now our experts are probing deeply to get every piece of information that we possibly can so we can make our own judgments. as i said earlier, we will make the judgment as to whether to advise americans to move or to leave based on our analysis and, of course, that's what we owe the american people. >> i know you're not an expert on this whole issue of nuclear energy, but you're a former united states senator. you know something about it. is it time for the u.s. to reconsider nuclear power? >> well, i think we're going to have to ask a lot of hard
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questions after what we've seen happen because all of the planning could not have foreseen what we have been witnessing, and obviously citizens who live near nuclear plants, that was an issue that i was concerned about when i was a senator from new york. i live near a nuclear plant in new york. citizens near nuclear plants that are on or near earthquake faults, everybody is going to have a lot more questions than they had before, and they deserve very thorough science-based answers. >> we'll have a lot more of wolf's one-on-one interview with secretary clinton. that's just ahead. >> isha, joining us now cnn's tom foreman has more information about the deteriorating information at the fukushima plant. tom, it sounds terribly bleak. what can you tell us about this environment? >> reporter: it's more what i can shore you. take a look at the images. these are the plants here, one, two, three and four and watch when i slide this across be a
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show you what it looks like now. this is what has been captured by digital globe. can you see the damage here, steam coming out of here, damage here, damage over here on number four. what we know is reactor number one, a hydrogen explosion on saturday. number two, we had an explosion on monday, and the containment vessel seems to be cracked with fuel rods exposed there. number three, hydrogen explosion sunday, suspected damage to the containment vessel, failure to cool the rods there and an evaporation of pool water and plus this one, number three, has plutonium in it, not just uranium, potentially the host, and the big issue, of course, is number nour and why number four matters. you talked earlier about the question of the rods being damaged there. this is where they keep them, right alongside the reactor itself. this was shut down when it started. these are the spent fuel rods. they must be kept in water because even though they are not as strong as rods used in here, they still emit a tremendous amount of radioactivity. they must be kept cooled down.
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what we're being told by u.s. officials now is they believe the water has dropped beyond, that exposing these rods. if that is the case, first of all, the coating on these will start bursting into flames. that may be the source of these fires that we're talking about. if that's happening, the ash and the smoke spreading for miles and miles and would all carry cesium, one of the most cancer-causing agents involved here, a huge problem. that's what shut down a huge part of the area around the cher noble plant after that disaster, but just as important for right now as you're dealing with the other ones, if we move forward here, if those are exposed that way, what they will do is emit so much radiation from an expert i was talking to yesterday and others have backed it up. somewhere between 50 and 100 yards out here, you're talking about fatal doses. that's more than enough to make this overlap into the other reactor areas which would just significantly impinge upon their ability to fight the potential of a meltdown in other areas.
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you're basically saying to people, would you have to truly risk death or maybe even take on a certain injury by going into this area to even work. this is what we're being told now about reactor number four, that those rods may be fully exposed, and i simply cannot stress what an incredibly perilous event you have if that is the case. there's no water over those rods, nothing to cool them down, then what you have is those rods, even though they are not the most potent radioactive material here, behaving like the most potent, because they are out in the open with nothing really shielding them as would be the case if they were inside the containment vessel which, of course, are not. jessica. >> so terrifying and sounds so much more bleak than what we've been hearing from the japanese government to date. thanks so much, tom. we although continue to follow that throughout the hour, and cnn brian todd is with rescuers as they go from town to town. weather is getting in the way of the search. we'll get his latest report. and people who lived through
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the worst nuclear power accident here in the united states understand what the japanese are going through. we'll revisit the three mile island disaster and the fears that still exist there. [ male announcer ] ten people are going to win the chevrolet, buick, gmc or cadillac of their choice. push your onstar button
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a 9.0 quake, a monster tsunami, and now snow, rain, sleet, freezing cold, and even the threat of mud slides. it's making a catastrophic situation even worse. our brian todd is traveling in japan with u.s. search-and-rescue crews. >> reporter: we're in the town of kamaishi in northeastern japan. got here this afternoon to find this scene, pretty much the same story, complete devastation and these teams have to comb through all the rubble. very heavily concentrated, and the houses clearly have been displaced, knocked into each other. there's a house that was knocked over and possibly into that other one over there as these guys try to enter that house. can you see them over there. they are working against every conceivable obstacle over here. tons of mud, debris all over the place. you've got downed power lines, and the weather obviously has turned very, very bad and risky.
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what are the complications added by the snow? >> a lot of complications, first of all, slip and fall hazards and the snow is a different element and hides things, makes the ground look identical all the way through and hard for rescuers to see what is a pit and what may be a cellar. >> reporter: it's a scene of complete destruction but worth it for these guys to pick through every inch and make their way through the downed power lines and over all of the objects and spaces because the stakes are enorm out, of course, because there are opportunities and voids seemingly wherever you look, under this house places where people could be sheltering, waiting for rescuers to arrive and under here a possibility for rescue. these guys have no room to operate as they try to get into this house that's been turned completely on its side. they have to slide through the openings, nails around and all kinds of sharp objects, and there's a guy coming out. what's incredible that these
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places is even with no sign of life, seemingly nothing to come back, to people keep coming back. trying to get through this rubble that you can barely walk through trying to get to their house and maybe find something that they can take back. late in the day here the hope finding someone alive gave way to a desperate reality yet again. a body was found inside this house in one of the crevices. they covered it in a flower blanket so this area, like so many others, devastated by the tsunami. no survivors found here in the wreckage, so we move on to the next area. brian todd, cnn, kamaishi, japan. >> brian is joining us live from there. brian, fascinating report, and i have to believe weather isn't the only challenge they face. will you talk a little bit about some of the other potential dangers and the mood among these rescue workers. >> reporter: well, jessica, there are several potential dangers aside from the weather and the snow is still coming down here. one of them is, of course, the danger of aftershocks. japan has experienced several
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since the first major quake. there have been several that have hit us, and the areas where we've moved, at one point i was with a crew on kind of a fallen rooftop at an angle where we were looking at a dog team going into a house and we were hit with a fairly major aftershock and jostled around a little bit, but we hung on. there have been aftershocks all over the place and, of course, now with the snow kind of destabilizing things further, the aftershocks, of course, provide a greater danger, and the problem, is you know, with the snow, it adds weight to the structures. it, of course, makes them more slippery, and as you heard the battalion chief say, it kind of blankets the whole area. you don't know whether you're stepping into a void or solid ground, whether you're on a pile of rubble, on a building or something else and then you get hit with an aftershock. extremely treacherous right now for these crews. >> brian, here in the u.s. we're watching the situation with the nuclear reactors closely. i'm curious. to what extent are the people you're with concerned about radiation exposure? are you near any of these
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damaged plants? >> reporter: we're not near enough to them to really cause a lot of major concern among the crews here. they have, of course, doctors on the teams with us. they are monitoring everybody very, very closely. they have dosimeters all over the place and, of course, they are in close touch with the usaid and the japanese government to always monitor that. right now they are confident that where we are we're all right. right now we're 120 miles or so northeast of the fukushima plant. we're going to be moving farther north today, so right now we seem to be okay. >> all right, brian. thanks for your fantastic reporting. stay safe. isha? >> well, jessica, the consequences of radiation exposure, they can be immediate, long term and potentially deadly. cnn's chief medical correspondent dr. sanjay gupta explains in a live report coming up from japan. unimaginable challenges facing the people who survive the tsunami.
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we'll get back to the disaster in japan in a moment but first lisa sylvester is monitoring other top stories in "the situation room" including a major development in a legal case that's caused friction between the u.s. and pakistan. lisa, what do you have? >> well, jessica, a cia contractor charged in pakistan of murdering two men is on his
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way back to the united states. pakistani authorities released raymond davis from jail today after the victims' families pardoned him. lawyers connected to the case say the families were each paid around $1 million in compensation. davis said he killed the men in self-defense during a robbery attempt. a curfew is in effect in parts of the bahraini capital after a day of violent clashes. witnesses say police attacked anti-government demonstrators using live ammunition, but government officials insist it was protesters who went after police, even killing two of them with their cars in anoth. in another clash witnesses say security forces stormed a hospital and beat up doctors. the government denied that, and boxing champ muhammad ali is appealing directly to iran's supreme leader in the case of two american hikers jailed in iran pleading for their release in a letter to the ayatollah khamenei. he says, quote, please show the world the compassion i know you have in your heart.
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allah is most merciful. the two have pled not guilty to spy charges. their trial is set to resume in mate. jessica. >> thank you so much, lisa. the nuclear crisis in japan is reminding many americans of the partial meltdown in this country three decades going ago. what did the u.s. learn from the three mile island disaster? >> and the head of the u.s. nuclear regulatory commission is warning that radiation levels in japan are extremely high. we'll talk about what that means and how worried we all should be. hot waffles...
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the breaking news this hour. u.s. government officials are suggesting the nuclear crisis in japan is far more serious than authorities in the disaster zone are letting on. america's top nuclear watchdog told congress today that, quote, extremely high radiation is coming from reactor four at the crippled daiichi nuclear plant, and the u.s. government is now
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advising americans to move at least 50 miles away from the plant. japan has ordered evacuations at least 12 miles from the plant and now many americans are wondering about the safety of u.s. power plants, and they can't help but be reminded of the worst nuclear disaster right here in the u.s. at three mile island. let's bring in our mary snow. some painful memories being reawoken. >> reporter: painful memories, isha, but 33 years after the accident at three mile island there are few signs of the partial meltdown that occurred there and many people that lived through the accident never left the area. these stacks at three mile island rarely faze many of the residents here in central pennsylvania, but they evoke memories of a national might mayor. the site of the worst nuclear accident in america's history back in march of 1979. americans tuned in to the nightly news to hear this. >> good evening. the world has never known a day quite like today.
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>> reporter: it turns out there were no deaths from the partial meltdown at three mile island. studies done since the accident report no long-lasting injuries. life has carried on. there are two units here at three mile island. unit two you can see behind me is where the accident happened. more than three decades later, unit one is still open, and the company operating it says it provides electricity to 800,000 homes. deb fulmer, a professional nurse, tells us she was comfortable raising her children in the shadows of three mile island's nuclear reactor. >> i look out my window and see the reactors every morning. it's just -- it's just something we live with. it's just a way of life. i still hear the jokes from people but this is where we live. >> reporter: fulmer was among tens of thousands of people in the immediate area who evacuated after then governor richard thornburgh ordered an evacuation of pregnant women and pre-schoolchildren. thornburgh says at the time he was getting faulty information that added to the panic.
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>> that becomes very frustrating because you have to rely on the experts to tell you precisely what's going on, and oftentimes those experts don't know themselves. >> reporter: five days after the nuclear accident, thornburgh toured the power plant with then president jimmy carter to try to instill confidence, but 32 years later, longtime resident eric epstein is still a skeptic, and now serves as an independent nuclear energy watchdog. >> there's a form of psychological terrorism that occurs during a nuclear accident because you don't know how it's going to turn out and don't know how you're going to be affected an neither do the experts. >> reporter: much has changed in the plants at three mile islands in terms of safety procedures and while many here are not afraid to live near the plants, some fear still exists. do you still get nervous? >> sometimes when we hear the sirens going off. they test the sirens sometimes, but after 30 years of having listened to sirens being tested, when one goes off, i stop in my tracks for a few seconds.
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>> reporter: and deb fulmer who you saw is a nurse who travels to disaster areas. she's been to haiti, afghanistan and expects to go to japan but she's very worried about the threat from radiation. as for three mile island, that cleanup took more than a decade and operators put the cost at about $1 billion. >> incredible. mary, let me ask you this. i know that with the situation in japan there's a lot of talk about potassium iodide tablets and how they can help as a precautionary or treatment measure depending on levels of radiation you're exposed to. what about the folks on three mile island. is this something that they are talking about, trying to get their hands on tablets like this? do they have them? >> they have them, isha. we were talking to a couple of families who say they first got the tablets when the accident happened but through the years they have always kept them on hand and if they don't have them in their home they know they can go to a local fire station, for example, where they can get their hands on them. >> mary snow, really bringing to
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light the fact that there's still some very painful memories surrounding all of this. mary, we appreciate it. thank you. jessica. >> thank you so much, isha. imagine now scenes like this, happening here in the united states today. hundreds or even thousands of people being tested for radiation exposure. the disaster in japan may be threatening public and political support for nuclear power right here in the u.s. let's bring in our senior congressional correspondent dana bash. dana, i have to imagine this has a lot of worried folks on capitol hill. >> reporter: the crisis in japan is no doubt raising a lot of questions in congress about u.s. nuclear power plants, and industry lobbyists with good connections and deep pockets are working hard to tamp down that growing concern. there's a reason alex flint is moving so fast to get to capitol hill. he's a top lobbyist for the nuclear energy energy walking the halls of congress, trying to reassure lawmakers watching japan. he is worried support for u.s.
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nuclear power could unravel. >> it is going to be non-stop for several hours here up on the hill, and then we're running 24 hours a day right now. >> reporter: flint, a former top senate aide turned lobbyist, is taking industry executives to closed door meetings all over capitol hill. >> all we're doing is sharing information. we've got a set of frequently asked questions about the situation in japan. >> reporter: this briefing drew 150 congressional staffers. cnn was allowed inside only after it was over. >> we think that we've got procedures in place that make us prepared if something like that were to happen in the united states. >> reporter: flint is careful not to sound like he's pressuring lawmakers at such a sensitive time, but there is no question he's trying to hold on to bipartisan support for nuclear power that has been building over the years. yet already some powerful backers of nuclear energy are wavering. >> it would be irresponsible not to step back and learn some lessons, if there are some, which i'm sure there will be,
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from what's happened in this disaster in japan. >> reporter: senate homeland security chairman joe lieberman wants the nuclear regulatory commission to wait for more information about japan's crisis before approving pending permits for new u.s. nuclear plants. beyond the 102 now operating. and now in question on capitol hill, $36 billion in loan guarantees president barack obama requested for more nuclear power plants which the industry desperately needs to expand. the president says nuclear power should be a key source of energy. his energy secretary urged lawmakers not to make rash judgments. >> it's probably premature to say anything except we will learn from this. >> reporter: other top lawmakers agreed. >> we ought not to make american u.s. domestic energy policy in the wake of a catastrophic event. >> reporter: but nuclear energy lobbyists like flint are taking nothing for granted. and, boy, is he taking nothing for granted. check out this video. that's alex flint, the nuclear
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energy lobbyist, right over the shoulder of energy secretary steven chu as he testified all morning on capitol hill today. jessica? >> front and center right there, dana. this is an energy policy is also big business. how much do you know that the nuclear industry spent lobbying congress? >> reporter: last year it was $2 million, 1.7 million to be exact. to be sure, that's nowhere near the hundreds of millions that big oil companies spend on lobbying congress but it is significant for the smaller nuclear energy sector, especially when you look at how much they spent just five years ago. you see that back in 2005 it was just $750,000. now, the nuclear power industry really has stepped up their efforts as prospects for expanding nuclear power here in the u.s. has gained traction. jessica, that has happened on both sides of the aisle. >> and it's paid off so far. it looks like the administration and congress is so far standing behind their plans to back these new plants. okay. thanks, dana. >> thanks, jess. as rescue workers search for survivors in japan, crews
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scramble to prevent a nuclear meltdown at a damaged power plant. anderson cooper has all the latest developments live from tokyo. but first, more on the here office that mission, the workers at the nuclear plant for risking their own lives for the greater good. ♪ announcer: what does it take to fly? it takes knowing we have our work cut out for us. flying brings more challenges everyday. but if you ask any of the pilots that work here: they'll say: one of the first things they learned in flight school... is that if you run before the wind... you can't take off. you've got to turn into it. face it. the thing you push against is the thing that lifts you up. so, every challenge really, is a chance to show that even in this crazy world of : no liquids, take your shoes off cost cutting and route canellations someone in this industry still has the passenger's back. it starts with a simple "hello"
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new images of the devastation that hit coastal japan. these are pictures coming to us from kesennuma. it's a coastal city in miyagi prefecture which, as you probably know by now, is one of the worst hit by the quake and resulting tsunami. you see the scale of the devastation, and in the midst of those ruins you have search and rescue going amongst the wreckage trying to find survivors. it is a very hard job. can you see what looks like drizzle falling on the scene. they are dealing with very cold temperatures. they are dealing with aftershocks, and they are dealing with such huge expansions of land that they have to get across, and so much to wade through, but we know that they are not stopping long because they have to keep moving. there's so much area, so much land they have to cover. jess characters every time you see the pictures, i've said it over and over again, it is still so shocking. >> hard to look at, and it's heartbreaking and, of course, the tragedies aren't even over yet because inside the crippled daiichi nuclear power plant there's 180 workers still
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working around the clock to avoid a full-fledged meltdown. some are calling them heros. cnn's anna coren has more on that. >> reporter: they are the amazing men making the ultimate sacrifice. they have been in there now for six days. we're coming into the sixth day of this crisis. they are trying desperately to cool those spent fuel rods. they are being pumping sea water on to these spent fuel rods in these pools, but it turns out that reactor four, it would seem that the water has all dried up. that is the major concern today, so these men, they are in this plant, 180 of them, as you mentioned, and they are doing everything that they possibly can, jessica, to contain this situation. we went out on the streets of tokyo yesterday and spoke to some people about these. these heroic people who are virtually risking their lives, you know. they are being exposed to such
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high levels of radiation, and one man said to me, you know, i couldn't do this. what they are doing is amazing because they are saving lives. but we do know that one of those workers is a 59-year-old man. he was only six months away from retiring, and he actually volunteered for the job. his wife said that he felt it was his role to -- to protect the people of fukushima and give them assurance that everything is going to be okay, but really, jessica, that's only a matter of time as to whether they can actually contain the situation. >> it's obviously noble of all these people what they are doing, it's just remarkable. my question is do we have a sense, are any of these people being compelled to do it? has the government ordered them, or are they all volunteers, or do we not know? >> there is such limited information coming out. we actually contacted the power company that runs this plant, and -- and they refuse to disclose any information about these workers. from this one particular
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newspaper report, talking about the 59-year-old man, he actually volunteered so we do know that he volunteered, that his daughter also said that she felt it was her father's duty. you know, this is one of those things here in japan where you speak to people, and you say, you know, what these men are doing is just such a heroic act and they say, yes, it is, but it's also their duty. they chose to do this work, so it is up to them to -- to fix the situation, but, of course, as we know, this is such an enormous, enormous, you know, situation that is unfolding in front of us, and -- and they really do need help, you know. experts are saying why aren't bodies doing more, international bodies doing more? we know that the chairman of the iaea, he's coming to japan. we know that the u.s. has offered their assistance as well, but, you know, here in japan, it's -- it's a cull poor where they are extremely proud, so international organizations, they need to be asked to get
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involved. jessica? >> a duty but also enormous sacrifice. thank you so much, anna. isha. >> moammar gadhafi's forces in a celebratory mood as they prepare for a major offensive against opposition forces, and secretary of state hillary clinton tells our very own wolf blitzer what she thinks about gadhafi's chances of victory. [ male announcer ] nature valley sweet & salty nut bars... they're made from whole roasted nuts and dipped in creamy peanut butter,
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new video coming into us here at "the situation room" once again underlink the scale of the destruction and getting word now that at least 13,000 people are dead or mission as a result of the quake and resulting tsunami. some 450,000 people living in shelters. it is a huge undertaking for all those searching for the dead and the missing. jessica? >> astonishing pictures there, isha. switching gears now to another major forcestory. force forces loyal to moammar gadhafi are gathering outside of ajdabiya and they are heavily armed. our own wolf blitzer sat down with secretary of state hillary clinton and asked about the offensive during the one-on-one interview in egypt. take a look. >> take a look at libya. it looks like gadhafi has won. >> i would not accept that premise. >> he's moving ahead and going
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directly towards the rebels in ben gassy. >> yes, that is true. he is moving ahead, and so is the international community. there is a greater urgency and intensive effort in reaction to the arab league statement on saturday, and what we're seeing in new york right now is intensive negotiations over what the international community could agree to that would protect innocent people in libya and try to prevent gadhafi from wreaking havoc, murder and mayhem on his own people. >> it sounds like it's going to be too little too late. >> well, i'm not prepared to accept that. i think that there was no appetite anywhere in the world with a very few exceptions for unilateral action because unilateral action was specifically prohibited by the security council, and i -- i know from our own experience now that it's better to have the international community behind you if you are able to do so,
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and once the arab league said, look, we want you to take action against a fellow member of the arab league, which was extraordinary, there has been a redoubling of efforts. now, there are countries that are -- are deeply concerned about doing anything, but a lot of their doubts have been ameliorated by the strong stand of the arab league. >> it wasn't such a strong stand. they said they would support a no-fly zone, but they also said you can't bond market air defense systems of libya, so you -- the united states is not going to do a no-fly zone and not go ahead hand take out their anti-aircraft batteries. >> well, no one is because that would put pilots in danger, and part of what is being discussed in detail is what is the level of arab leadership and participation in any actions that would be authorized by the security council. >> if the arab league wants a no-fly zone, they are air forces. saudi arabia has a lot of f-15s and f-16. qatar has an air force, united
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arab emirates, jordan. why don't they do a no-fly zone? >> i think they, too, recognize it is the security council which should authorize any such action, but as part of the deliberations in the security council in new york as we speak there is a lot of effort to really detail what arab participation detail what arab participation in leadership would be. because obviously the arab league statement is an important step, but it needs to be followed up on. >> here's what i'm afraid of. a t of people in libya are are afraid of it. there's about to be a blood bath in libya right now. and the world is just going to let it happen. it sort of reminds me. i went to rwanda with president clinton in 2008. he was very moved. he said i knew what was happening in the oval office, but i didn't do anything. but i regret that. i'm concerned the world is sort of talking about this, but
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gadhafi is about the to start slaughtering people. >> well, wolf, i get up every day and look at reports for around the world. we have violence in the democratic republic of the congo. we have flare-ups of violence in many other parts of africa. we have a lot of problems that are crying out for resolution. not everyone one of those can be unilaterally addressed by the united states. that's why president obama is correct in saying gadhafi has lost legitimacy to govern. if there is to be action taken against him to try to help the opposition and to protect the civilians it must be authorized by the international community. you hear the same things i hear. on one hand, okay, go do this. on the other hand, if they do that it's because they're after the oil. no, only the security council
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can authorize action, and if they do, there needs to be a true international response, including arab leadership and partnership. >> coming up, more of wolf's interview with the secretary of state. they'll talk about the situation in japan and what clinton sees as her future role. >> well fears about the possibility of a nuclear meltdown in japan are growing by the hour. we have the latest on what crews are doing to avert another major disaster. you're in "the situation room." tdd# 1-800-345-2550 absolutely, i mean, these financial services companies
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about 200,000 people or more have been evacuated from the area near the troubled daiichi nuclear plant. some have decided to leave the country all together, at least for now. here's cnn's paula hancocks. >> this is tokyotokyo's airport. it is certainly more busy than normal, but there's no sense of panic among people trying to get out of the country today. we've heard from airlines that told us, yes, they are busier and they are considering putting on extra planes. we've also heard from japan's immigration office saying they have records that more citizens are leaving the country since sunday. it seems personally there's a
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much higher proportion of foreigners than you would expect at a japanese airport. one man said he had to leave with his family because he lived too close to fukushima nuke cle plan. i was watching tv. i was just like, let's go. it's about 9:00 p.m. we just jumped in the car and just headed for the mountains. directly away from the power stations. >> reporter: another man who works for a large company told me it's a very personal decision if he wanted to leave but all his friends have decided to. >> i don't believe what i've been told. people are e vk waiting. all foreigners are evacuating. large, multinational companies, foreign companies are evacuating. you don't know what to believe. it's bart to play it safe. >> everyone we have spoken to here so far says their decision to leave is nothing to do with the earthquake, nothing to do with the tsunami.
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>> the u.s. is urging americans to leave japan. we'll get an expert opinion on the levels of radiation coming from the plant, and dr. sanjay gupta will talk to us about the health risks of radiation exposure. ♪ [ male announcer ] america's beverage companies are working together to put more information right up front.
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we have received a new i-report showing the power of the 9.0 earthquake last friday. this was shot from the seventh floor of a department store in tokyo.
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you're in "the situation room." happening now, breaking news. a very grim new assessment that japan's crisis by the top u.s. nuclear official. he says it's likely spent fuel of a damaged facility is now uncovered, leading to high radiation levels. with uncertainty and fierce spreading, there's a mass exodus from the world's most populated city. we'll take you to tokyo's airports. and from the latest, updates on the ground. we'll go live to anderson cooper and sanjay gupta. wolf blitzer is flying from cairo to tunisia. he will join us as soon as he lands. isha sesay joins me for this special hour of coverage. i'm jessica yellin. you're in the situation hoom.
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"the situation room.." >> american top officials are warning of extremely high radiation at the damaged nuclear plant, saying spent fuel may have become exposed. a white cloud of smoke or steam rose over the plant, forcing a brief evacuation of workers and the scrubbing of a helicopter mission to drop water over a reactor. the white house calling it a deteriorating regulation. this was capitol hill today. >> what we believe at this time is there has been a hydro general explosion in this unit, due to the uncovering of the field pool. we believe secondary containment has been destroyed. we believe radiation levels are extremely high, which could possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures.
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>> and the u.s. embassy is advising americans within 50 kilometers to evacuate or take shelter. wolf blitzer is traveling with hillary clinton and asked her about the crisis. >> is the united states urging citizens to get out of japan, as other countries are beginning to do, like france and maybe germany? >> well, first, wolf, the safety of american citizens is always our highest priority. we are litd rally monitoring this minute by minute. we have nuclear regulatory commission, department of energy experts on the ground in japan working with the japanese. and we are doing everything we can to help them try to get this triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami, nuclear reactors under control. so if there is a necessity in our view to encourage that, we'll do so.
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>> as you've been hearing, japanese workers are struggling to find ways to cool the overheated reactors. grim words coming from a top u.s. official who is saying a spent fool has run dry resulting in high radiation levels. let's get the latest from cnn's tom foreman. tom, break this down further for us. >> hi, isha. let's break this down further. this is the way they were before all of this started. i want you to take a look at what they look like now, though. as we slide this across, you can see the tremendous amount of damage being done to every one of the these units. this is why the u.s. is now putting the exclusions over americans at 50 miles instead of the roughly 18 miles the japanese are calling. in reactor number one there was a high explosion on saturdays. reactor number two had an explosion on monday.
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reactor number three, the only one that contains plutonium, which presents a whole different level of danger. suspected damage to the containment vessel. evaporation of the pool water. all sorts of issues ch then number four. this is the one we've been talking about so much. with very good reason. number four is where we've had the issue of poo pool containing the spent rods. they are the ones that would actually be involved. up near the top of the unit. they take the old fuel rods, and they put them into essentially a storage area that's full of water. when that u.s. official was speaking a minute ago, what he was saying is they believe the water has now drained out of there. if it has in fact drained out of there, what you're talking about is a level of radiation coming out of one those roads that could make within 50 to 100 yards in all direction,
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depending on what shielding may be between you and the force, fatal doses coming out. it will cause hair loss, the beginning of organ failure and raise the possibility of leukemia and lymphoma. if that's happening here with the spent fuel rods, which are in an uncontained area, with simply just a metal roof on it. and if it's happening to the other ones, which they also fear that what you might be doing is creating such a hazardous area in here the workers can't get in there without essentially accepting they're taking a fatal mission. we understand now when they talk about canalling the helicopters early on, part of the concern is so much radiation is going up you can't fly over in a helicopter without endangering people's lives. so there's talk now the police may be using water cannons to fire from a distance and put water onto this. i must say, jessica, when they say that deteriorating
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situation, that's what we're talking about. here's the scale, the international scale of nuclear events. this is where many people believe we are now. at number six here, we're up very close to where chernobyl was. there's almost no doubt at this point, no matter what else happens, we'll be talking about fukushima well into the future in the same breath as three-mile island and chernobyl. the question is how far will it go. >> to stay on the topic, the u.s. is keeping military personnel 50 miles now from the damaged reactors and wants american citizens to do the same. now keep in mind, that's a much greater radius than the japanese government has suggested for its own people. so to dig deeper into how great the radiation danger is now and potentially in the future, let's bring in cnn's chief medical correspondent, dr. sanjay gupta, who is now on the line with us from tokyo. sanjay, you've been doing some amazing reporting. they have expanded the
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evacuation zone. why do they think the japanese government isn't strong enough? what are the dangers the residents are facing who are closer in? >> well, you're seeing the inconsistencies in trying to figure out what the nature of this radiation is and trying to correlate that with how at risk the people in the surrounding areas are. there's been an arbitrary nature to these evacuation zones. i think this is a little bit more evidence of it. to be fair, there's not a lot of data on this thing. this isn't something you study because you wouldn't ever willingly or knowingly expose people to this type of radiation. it's also based on weather conditions. we've talked a lot about how the winds may change. we hear from tokyo, for example, that radiation levels are 20 times what they normally are.
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to hear that sounds frightening. but it's still well below the level that human health effects are supposed to happen, that gives it more context. a lot of changing information. a lot of it is theoretical information. and some of it is conflicting information. and that's the challenges that everyone is having. >> some of the most surprising news is the top u.s. nuclear official said the radiation levels at one of the reactors is so high it could impact the ability to take corrective measures. it sounds too dangerous to continue being at the reactor. could you describe what they would go through if they were to stay in the environment? >> it's really heartbreaking to think about. if you just imagine the situation, it's likely dark,
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sort of moving around. they have hazmat suits. at radiation levels that high, those suits don't provide adequate protection. they're probably breathing through respirator tanks. you know, just trying to continue to cool the reactors. in terms of their own personal health, they start to develop what is known as acute radiation sickness. you think about the impact in the short term, the acute term and the long term. everyone is focused on what's happening now, the acute term. people, you know, they become nauseated. they start vomiting. they might have bleeding from the intestines. any cells in your body that rapidly divide the cells in your gut, on your skin, to make your hair, all those will be affected
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first. after that there's obviously concerns about the impact on bone marrow, the impact on a thigh road gland, cancers later down the road if someone were to survive the acute part of it. >> sanjay, it's isha here in atlanta. let me ask you about the development where it was confirmed the prass were found in the water in fukushima prefecture and the significance of that. they are saying that harmful to health. your thoughts? >> they take a small sample and exstr exstrap late that. it was much higher than normal. they subsequently tested it, as
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you may have heard, and they found the levels had come back down to essentially zero is what we're hearing. they'll continue to monitor this. there's nothing in particular people are being asked to do about the radiation levels. but there's two concerns here. one is, might they continue to go up? and two is why did they go up? if the containment vessels were breached, that would be evidence. it's causie ining problems seep into the ground. they confirmed the radiation levels on the high reading were because of fukushima. i don't know if they did that because of the tracer or what, but the radiation levels did cause a spike in the radiation of the water levels. >> sanjay, standby for us. you make an important point of seepage and how it got in the
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water. let me ask you this. you heard what sanjay said about the seepage of radioactive elements in the water. which is more worrisome to you? the situation regarding the reactors, one two and three that they're struggling to cool down, or the situation regarding the cooling ponds? which poses the big test threat immediately? >> well, right now it's the spent fuel ponds where they're keeping the nuclear waste. if the head of the united states nuclear regulatory commission is coming out and saying that fuel pond st dry and generating high levels of radiation, so high workers may not be able to go in and manage the problems of the other nearby reactors and this the u.s. is deviating from its close and long-time ally of japan, and is telling americans to move 50 miles away, or 50
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kilometers away rather than 30, that's big news. that's the head of the -- that's the top u.s. nuclear official saying that things are worse than japan has been saying, and that americans need to do something differently. that's going to put tremendous pressure on the japanese government. it points to the fact that the spent fuel problem is the overarching issue. it is generally dry. i will add by the way on the same topic, the iaea reported today that japan told them that at reactor three, which had previously just been a reactor problem, now reactor three is having spent fuel issue as well. neither are good. but i'm more worried about the spent fuel pumps now than i was 24 hours ago.
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>> this is jessica. the top u.s. nuclear official is saying the radiation officials are too high to take corrective measures. what do you fear could happen next given that information? >> well, jessica, you know, we saw sort of ha little bit of this last night when i was talking to anderson when he said all the workers had been pulled back. that was a stunner at the time. they were returned. if the radiation gets so high and extends to ha level that encompasses the other reactor areas, and the japanese government is reluctant to send people in on what may be a suicide mission, depending on how high the had ration is, that means there are no workers. there are no workers at the other reactors trying to manage reactor number one, reactor number two, reactor number three. that would have significant implications. sanjay gupta is joining us on the line from japan.
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room." you're in "the situation room." let's show you pictures coming into us. more damage caused by the
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tsunami. these are pictures coming to us from the evacuation zone near the reactors of the fukushima daiichi plant. let's bring in dr. sanjay gupta who is on the line. he is there in japan. when they went back to test it, it was much lower. certainly that raises the question of these elements getting into the food chain. >> yeah, it does. the first question, in a situation like this, is exactly how is it that the radiation is getg from the plant into the water in this particular case. the idea, does this indicate that there's been some sort of breach in allowing radiation to seep into the ground water? i don't know. i don't think people can say that for sure yet. again, that second result came back as normal. it's hard to piece that together right now. there's just not enough information. i think testing will continue.
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but you're absolutely right so could this also get into ground water used to irrigate crops? could it get into the food sufully? and subsequently into the grain supply used to feed the animals? there's a chain of events that need to be analyzed. the first source, is radiation getting out through some sort of breach? that's a question that needs to be answered. >> sanjay, isha, joining us now is jim walsh. it seems like there's been a cascading series of horrors about this one plant in particular every time we check in and get more news developments it seems worse. the first bit of potential good news is this news that the power company there believes they might be able to connect a power line to the nuclear power plant and do what? >> well, the idea of being able to get power means being able to
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run, if you get everything else to work, both running pumps to get water into reactors that need cooling water, and also if you get a line of electricity, being able to run pumps at reak tomorrow number four and five and six. if they're having problems cooling the nuclear waste pond. you need electricity. the way it's supposed to work is you have an elect ral source that pumps the fresh water and circulates the cool water. that's by far the preferred outcome. the first accept is being able to have electricity. it's only the first step. then they have to put the rest
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of them together. >> i know you're keeping a close eye on radiation levels around you. what is it showing now? >> well, it's interesting. i woke up this morning. been wearing this over the last 36 hours now. i guess somewhat interestingly, my level has quadrupled over that period of time. that is not normal, according to folks i've talked to and tried to really make sense of these numbers. i'll give you the numbers for people paying attention. but it's 0.004. that's not much in the context of what people are talking about. but it's more than normal. that's always going to raise some concerns, but i want to say, be very careful here, because that's well below any kind of impact level on human health. there's no question.
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it's been confirmed the radiation levels in tokyo, for example, up to 20 times more normal yesterday. the radiation levels are higher. those will register. >> sanjay, thank you so much. please stay safe. jim walsh, thank you again for joining us. we continue to follow the astonishing developments in this story. it looks like we might have news coming in on it, and also on the other side of this break, anderson cooper joins us live from japan. stay with us. le roasted nuts and dipped in creamy peanut butter, making your craving for a sweet & salty bar irresistible, by nature valley. [ male announcer ] ten people are going to win the chevrolet, buick, gmc or cadillac of their choice. push your onstar button and you could be one of them. even if you're not an onstar customer. ♪ just push your blue button and tell the advisor you want to enter the onstar push on sweepstakes. ♪
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more indications that moammar gadhafi is strengthening his power. lisa sylvester is monitoring that and other top stories in "the situation room" right now. a lot happening in the world. >> we have new video from libyan state television allegedly showing gadhafi greeting supporters in the city of misrata. forces are bombing their way into the city adding he doesn't care if all the people are dead by the end of the day. there's also heavy fighting in the last rebel stronghold before their base in benghazi. "the new york times" said four journalists are missing in libya. anthony shadid. reporter stephen farrell and photographers tyler hicks and lynsey addario haven't been seen
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since yesterday morning. in an e-mail, addario called the libyan fighting one of the most dangerous stories she's ever covered. and a cia contractor jailed in pakistan since january is now free. he was charged for the shooting deaths of two pakistani men. he claims it was self defense. a lawyer close to the case says davis was released after paying $1.4 million to this the victim's families. secretary of state hillary clinton says the money did not come from the u.s. government. isha? >> lisa, thank you very much. nuclear fears are weighing heavily on survivors of japan's catastrophic quake and tsunami. we'll go live to anderson cooper in tokyo. and hillary clinton speaks to wolf blitzer about the nuclear crisis and efforts to keep americans safe. see you in "the situation room."
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well, japanese authorities have been cautious when discussing the nuclear crisis. u.s. officials are voicing increasing concern, and fears of
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very high radiation are leading the u.s. government to urge americans to stay far from the damaged plant concern is also spreading in tokyo, where there's been an exodus from the city. let's go live to anderson cooper who joins us from tokyo. today the top u.s. nuclear official broke with japanese officials on major analysis of their aspects of the crisis. is there a sense the government is fully transparent with the people? >> reporter: absolutely not. there's real concerns here among many people that the japanese government is taking all their cues and getting all their information from this japanese company, which runs this plant. you know, you think back to the oil spill of the united states, and there was concerns that brk p had too much of a role in cleaning up the spill or calling the shots. the u.s. government said no, we're calling the shots. no one said that here.
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this private company is controlling the flow of information out of this plant. so all the information about what's happening is coming from this public company, which has a record of misleading the public. an not being transparent. the japanese government in their public statements, i got to the tell you, i listened to been interview by the spokesman on cnn about ten hours ago. he said a lot of stuff, but he didn't really say anything at all. they had no real level of detail in terms of radiation levels. no real understanding of what is going on in that plant. it may be very well that the japanese government limplsy does not have that level of detail because nair not getting it from a private company. so people in tokyo in particular were very interested to hear from u.s. officials who were saying, talking about the seriousness of this. you had the energy secretary, steven chu saying we really
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don't know what's going on in that plant. so the u.s. government doesn't know what's going on in the plant. theirly they're getting their information from the japanese government. there's a lot of concern that the government here certainly doesn't seem to have their hands around it or that no one really seems to have their hands around it, exactly. and no one really seems to be taking a leadership role and being in control of it. now the japanese government will say, look, we've set up a unique situation. we set up an integrated task force with this company, but that was just yesterday. you kind of wonder, why wasn't that done sooner? how effective will that really be? there's a lot of questions there are are no answers to. it's very upsetting for people all throughout japan. >> anderson, it's isha here. to your point about the sense of the electrical company can't get their hands around the problem, is the whole issue, were you on when it broke they had wraun the 50 workers for the power plant.
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it was 50 worker ls. now we're hearing 180. many people wondering if that's enough to tackle such a mammoth problem? >> well, clearly the working conditions have got to be, just, you know, it's a threat to everyone's life who is working there. so they're trying to limit exposure as much as possible. they've raised the number, as you've said, they've reportedly raised the number and we can't independently confirm any of this. they say they've raised the number to 180 people they're rotating through. these people are sacrificing their health and very possibly their lives to do this work. but it's not clear that's enough people. it's not clear the situation is in any way under control. it certainly seems it's not under control. we had so many conflicting
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statements over the last several days. just look at the evacuation zone or exclusion zone. the government put a 20 kilometer radius around evacuating people from the 20 kilometers for another 10 kilometers. so for 30 kilometers in the area, stay indoors. don't go outside. turn off any air-conditions. u.s. military personnel is not allowed within 50 miles of the plant and advising u.s. citizens not to be within 50 miles as well. right there are completely contradictory things. again, it's a great concern. just a lack of real information if that was given here, no one would stand for it. the level of the lack of detail
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and the double speak is extraordinary. perhaps it's out of concern to not get people upset and to have people remain caulk. but i can tell you the double speak and not answering questions makes it worse. now you have a huge credibility gap. once you lose that credibility, it's very, very difficult to get it back. >> one problem compounding another. anderson cooper, thank you so much for your amazing reporting on this unbelievable tragedy. coming up, secretary of state hillary clinton speaking exclusively to wolf blitzer about the unfolding crisis in japan. what is she hearing from japanese officials? are they telling everything? ♪
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joining us now. isha sesay. wolf, you made it. >> yeah, this is tunisia where it all started three months ago, all the regional unrest. the secretary of state has a lot of meetings scheduled for tomorrow. she wants to confirm strong u.s. support for what's going on in tunisia. not in libya and other places.
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we had a chance to speak extensively about what's going on in japan. let me play a clip for the viewers in united states and around the world. >> you know tlrks are a lot of american diplomats and dependents, mill pair personnel, tourists. is it time for folks to leave japan? >> we're monitoring that. we're listening to the experts. we want to make an informed decision if a decision becomes necessary. >> so as of now you're not telling people to leave. >> as of this minute. but again, we are in close touch. we will make a decision if we believe it's in the best interest in the health and safety of american citizens. >> how worried are you about the potential for radiation and for poisoning to affect a lot of
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people? well i'm very worried. this is a catastrophe. prior to events of three-mile island, chernobyl had consequenc consequences. what we're seeing unfold in japan is on a much greater scale. >> greater than three-mile island? >> what we know now is it has the potential be. we know the japanese government, the u.s. navy and others are testing for radiation exposure. there's a level of even increased radiation exposure that is not considered detrimental to human health and safety. above that we have to start to worry. >> are you confident we're getting the full story from the government of japan? >> i believe based on the feedback from our experts, there was a lot of confusion as there would be in any disaster.
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if you're hit with an earthquake and then a tsunami, it takes time to get a handle on that. i think now our experts are probing deeply to get every piece of information they possibly can so that we can make our own judgments, as i said earlier, we will make the judgment as to whether to ad striz americans to move or to leave based on our analysis. tha what we owe the american people. >> i know you're not an expert. but you're a former united states senator. is it time for the u.s. to reconsider nuclear power? >> i think we're going to ask a lot of hard questions. all of the planning could not have foreseen what we have been witnessing. citizens who live near nuclear plants, i lived near a nuclear plant in new york.
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citizens near nuclear plants that are on or near earthquake falls, everybody is going to have a lot more questions than they had before. and they deserve very thorough science-based answers. >> you met with a japanese foreign minister. >> yes. >> is there anything he asked of the united states that the u.s. can't deliver on? >> no. he's been very forthcoming in thanking us for the assistance we and other nations have provided. the government of japan has been grateful publicly and privately for our civilian military help. but the extent of what they are dealing with is unlike anything any of us have had to confront. there's a lot of effort being put into planning and trying new things. flood them with sea water. try to put the fires out.
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our experts are searching to solutions for what is a fast moving dynamic situation. >> this is all unchartered territory. >> it is unchartered. there's no book to take off the shelf and say if a 9.0 earthquake hits and then a massive tsunami floods the entire region where you are, what do you do? this is the kind of contingency planning most people did not think was necessary. well, we're going to have to rethink that. if you look at other weather problems, everybody will have to go back to the drawing boards. it's not only about nuclear power. it's about infrastructure, coal-fired plants, oil fired plants. we'll have to look very carefully at all of the
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preexisting assumptions. >> we're going to have more of the interview coming up this on capitol hill in washington. let's listen in briefly. there's new information coming in on what's happening in japan. >> what is the discrepancy between what the japanese government is saying and what we are seeing today? >> the information i have is coming from staff people we have in tokyo interfacing with counterparts in the nuclear industry in japan. i've confirmed they believe the information they have is reliable. we believe there's no water in the fuel pool known as number four. it is my great hope the information we have is not accurate. i would hope the situation is not at the state that we think it is. >> and if it is accurate? >> well, there are efforts ongoing to continue to address
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the situation. as i said, the actions we would take in the united states would be precautionary measures to determine that if this were to proceed to a more severe event that people would be evacuated and not exposed to harmful levels of readuation. >> if the fool pool is dry, is it inevitable there be admission of the spent fuel? or is there a scenario where it might not happen? >> well, there's a lot of detailed factors that go into what would happen with the dry spent fuel pool. it depends on the age of the fuel, the material that's in there. at this point we don't have that specific information. i dwoent want to speculate. my question is ignition of the fuel one thing you're concerned about. >> that's certainly an area we're looking at.
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it's one of the possibilities that led us to determine that again in the united states. we would make a recommendation to evacuate to a larger area. >> one question at a time. we're looking at a variety of different issues include iing t reactors themselves. we think hear in the united states we could take this prudent measure to issues evacuations to larger areas. i'm not personally familiar with the composition of the fuel rods in that particular area or the spent fuel pool ls in question. >> you were just listening to the head of the nuclear regulatory commission just laying out once again the u.s.'s belief that there is no water covering spent fuel rods and one of the reactor units.
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he didn't specify which one he was talking about at that point in time. the belief is at least according to the united states that the situation is extremely dire. let's bring in our jim walsh, from m.i.t., who has been helping us understand this. jim, you heard him just lay it out right there. the situation is extreme dire. that led for a call for americans to evacuate to a 50-mile radius. >> after he made the statements earlier today, while you've been on air, i went to the nrc website. i looked at press released for the last three days. 24 hours ago the nrc totally supported japanese actions and would do the same thing. soon after that a u.s. team arrived on the ground this morning. as of this afternoon, they've reversed the situation. clearly american officials arrived this morning, went to the plant, saw things were not what they expected, and then you're seeing this dramatic announcement tonight. >> as he talks about the spent
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fuel rods being uncovered, do we know which ones he's talking about? obviously we're talking about units four, five and six, of cours course. >> i assume he's referring to unit four. five and six we haven't heard much about anymore after they initially expressed concern about two days ago. i'm losing now. the japanese told them they were concerned about the waste pool at reactor three. there's one reactor where they both have a problem and a possible spent fuel problem all in the same reactor. that's the first development of that kind so far. >> this is an extremely worrisome situation. it's a fast developing story. jim walsh, standby for us. wolf, we're going to continue to follow this story obviously. and the united states laying it out clearly this evening, that situation is extremely dire,
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wolf. >> yeah, and based on all the conversations i've had with the secretary of state and other u.s. officials, they are working right now to make sure that americans in japan, whether they're near this disaster zone or not so near, they want to try to protect them, not only the dip low matdic personnel and their american tourists or other american businessman as well as the tens of thousands of u.s. military personnel. there is a lot of stake obviously right now. we'll take a quick break. much more of the breaking news coverage coming up in "the situation room." ♪ one, two, three, four ♪ you say ♪ flip it over and replay ♪ we'll make everything okay ♪ walk together the right way ♪ do, do, do, do castrol syntec has been reformulated for better performance under the hood. so we gave it a new name. castrol edge with syntec power technology. new name. better formula.
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joining us is gregory jaczko. how dangerous is the radiation right now? folks in this vicinity of this reactor, are they in danger of dying? >> well, the -- our understanding is there are very high radiation levels near some parts of the reactor site. i don't want to go too much into the details, but they are very high levels. >> so how close to the reactor -- how far away could people be safe, in other words, and everybody should evacuate from what radius of the reactor? >> well, wolf, we took a look at the situation and the available data that we had, and we compared that to a situation in the united states, and based on the information we had, we
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thought it was prudent to have people within about a 50-mile radius evacuate so we thought that was a prudent decision for u.s. citizens in the area of the reactors. >> is there a discrepancy between what the japanese authorities are saying and what you're saying? >> well, i've been talking to a team of experts that we have in japan right now, actually in tokyo and they are gathering their information by talking to the utility in japan as well as some other officials there, so they've shared with me some information that they thought was relevant and it affects one of the spent fuel pools and based on that and the information around the reactors, as i said, given a similar situation in the united states we would look at an evacuation to about 50 miles. >> how likely is it that the fuel there could ignite? >> well, i don't really want to speculate at this point on those
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kinds of specifics. i do know there are efforts under way to try to address the condition of both the reactors as well as the spent fuel pool. >> should americans in japan, whether in tokyo or elsewhere start thinking about leaving? >> right now the recommendation that we have is based on a comparable situation in the united states and what we think right now is prudent is that people within about a 50-mile radius should evacuate further. >> there are about 35 nuclear plants with a similar design in the united states. do you believe that there's a plan of action in case there was a similar crisis in the united states to deal with this kind of contingency? >> well, wolf, we think we have a very robust program here in the united states to deal with seismic events and siouxs and other natural types of hazards so in the event of a severe kind
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of incident like this we also require all of our nuclear power plants to have equipment on site that's already ready to go in the event that they got to this very, very unlikely situation where they would lose all of the ability to cool the core and lose all of the ability to have offsite power to the site. so we think we have a good robust system here in the united states, but we're certainly going to sit down and take a look at any lessons we have out of japan and make sure that there's nothing we can learn that would change our thinking on that. >> gregory jaczko of the nuclear regulatory commission. thanks very much. good luck. good luck to everyone. this is obviously a catastrophe. we'll continue our coverage right after this. [ male announcer ] some prescription drugs may lead to constipation. fortunately, there's senokot-s tablets. senokot-s for occasional constipation associated with certain medications.
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we leave you now with the exchange i had with the secretary of state, hillary clinton. if the president is re-elected do you want to serve a second term as secretary of state. >> no. >> would you like to serve as secretary of defense? >> no would you like to be vice president of the united states. >> no. >> would you like to be president of the united states. >> no, because i have the best job i have. it's almost hard to catch your breath in this moment of history. there are the tragedies and disasters that we have

The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer
CNN March 16, 2011 5:00pm-7:00pm EDT

News/Business. Wolf Blitzer. Traditional reporting and online resources update international news. New.

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